Why We Let Our Kids Watch TV

posted by Andrea | 08/11/2014

kids and TV

Every couple of weeks, it seems like I get another email from a blog reader asking something about kids watching TV, kids and screen time, or kids and other electronic devices. Most of the emails are asking my thoughts on the issues, if we let our kids watch TV, how much screen time we let them have, etc. etc.

While I do believe this is an important topic we should think about; I definitely would not consider myself an expert on this area of parenting (or really any area of parenting) since my kids are only 2.5 and 5 months!

I never considered doing a blog post about kids and TV or kids and screen time; but recently, I received 3 different emails from moms or grandmas who read my blog and wanted to thank me for making them feel OK about occasionally letting their children / grandchildren watch a little TV.

All 3 women alluded to the fact that they felt bad if they let their children watch any TV since most other internet sources portray TV and other “screens” to be horrible influences on children. They said that it was a relief for them to read that Dave and I DO let our kids watch TV and that we don’t feel bad about it or try to hide it.

I was honestly somewhat confused as to why it was such a big deal that I’ve shared about our kids watching TV in previous blog posts — but as I thought about it a bit more, I realized that I really haven’t seen many blog posts or internet articles about parents who let their kids watch TV. Yet, at the same time, almost every single parent I know lets their kids watch TV at some point (even the ones who say they “never” do).

Are we really too ashamed to admit we let our kids veg-out in front of the TV every once in a while?

Or maybe Dave and I are the only parents who have ever let our kids watch TV? :)

Well, in the interest of keeping things real once again — I would just like to announce, once and for all, that both our kids watch a fair amount of TV every day. 

This is not because we are horrible parents. It’s not because we don’t have time or energy to play with our kids. And it’s not because they can’t entertain themselves.

We let our kids watch TV simply because we believe in “all things in moderation” and we feel that by not making a big deal about TV or screen time when they are younger, it will simply be one of many activities they can choose to do (or not to do) as they grow older.

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This might sound naive or like a cop-out excuse because we don’t want to be “mean parents”, but Dave and I have actually thought about our decision and both agree that we have no issue with select TV programs and occasional iPad usage.

Let me explain why:

Growing up, my sisters and I watched a fair amount of TV because our parents never had super strict rules about it. We knew what shows we could and couldn’t watch, and we knew we would get in trouble if we watched a show we weren’t supposed to watch. Since TV and computer time was never forbidden, we really never thought much about it being a “privilege” or a “reward” or something we wanted to do all the time. We watched TV when there was something interesting on, and we turned it off when we were finished.

However, I had a couple friends who were not allowed to watch TV — and do you know what they wanted to do EVERY time they came over to play? They wanted to watch TV. I wanted to go swimming, ride bikes, play in the woods, or make a craft; but all they could think about was watching TV because it was not allowed at their house.

I also had a girl on my floor in college that was not allowed to watch TV growing up. You would not believe how many hours and hours of TV that girl watched every day. I think my roommate and I watched TV less than 10 times the entire year, but every time we passed that girl’s room, she was parked on the couch, watching TV.

In my experience, whenever TV (or junk food, alcohol, movies, dating, etc.) is strictly prohibited, there is a much higher chance that child will rebel and crave those restricted items after they move away from Mom and Dad…

And THAT’s why we’re perfectly fine letting Nora watch a little PBS, Baby Einstein, or Netflix every now and then.

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As some of you might know, Nora is EXTREMELY stubborn and strong-willed. The second we tell her she can’t do something, it’s all she can think about doing. So if we told her she couldn’t watch TV, it’s all she would think and talk about ALL. DAY. LONG.

Since she has officially stopped taking any sort of nap or rest time, she watches a few 20-minute shows each day when Simon is sleeping (usually Daniel Tiger and Curious George). This means I get a quick break to make dinner, clean up the kitchen, go to the bathroom in peace, check my emails, or do a little work. When the show is finished, Nora and I can do something fun together before Simon wakes up.

She’s happy, I’m happy, we both get a little “alone time” and then we’re ready to do something else.

Oh, and since I’m being honest, I should mention that there are days when she watches more than a few shows! 

If it’s raining outside, if Simon is being fussy, if she’s overwhelmed from a busy morning out of the house, or if I just need a break and don’t feel like reading her 2 favorite Berenstain Bears books 8 times in a row, I turn on a 12-minute Daniel Tiger or Curious George episode on Netflix.

And no, I don’t feel bad.

I’m home with our kids ALL day long, and we do lots of fun things. We play outside, we read books, we sing songs, we do crafts, we cook and bake, we learn numbers and letters, we play with friends and neighbors, Dave plays with them when he’s home, and their grandparents play with them regularly. They are not deprived… and there is no way a little TV could completely ruin them.

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I am not writing this blog post to justify the fact that we let our children watch TV. I’m writing this post because apparently there are a lot of parents who feel bad letting their kids watch a little TV because they think everyone else is doing Pinterest crafts and educational field trips all day long.

Believe me, those parents let their kids watch some TV too!

Even our friends who don’t have a TV because they claim it’s evil still let their kids watch shows on the computer :)

I realize that as our children get older, we will most likely need to set some rules and boundaries — like no TV, computers, or iPads in their bedrooms, restrictions on what they can and cannot watch, and no TV or fun computer activities until homework is finished. But right now, we’ll give ourselves a break and let our kids watch (and sing along) with Daniel Tiger — yes, it’s really cute!

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If you are struggling with the issue of screen time for your younger children, I don’t want to sway you one way or the other. However I will share how I often make parenting decisions — especially when I’m struggling with what choice to make.

I always try to stop and think about how serious the issue is in the broader scheme of life.

  • Will their morals be compromised by an episode of Thomas the Train?
  • Will they have severe health complications because they watched a Baby Einstein DVD?
  • Will anyone be injured if the TV is turned on for a while each day?

When I put the issue at hand into perspective a bit more, I can see that for me, TV is not a big deal. It’s not worth arguing over. It’s not worth tears or tantrums. We can watch a little TV and then go do something else. In fact, Nora is to the point where she turns the TV off after the show is finished because she is ready to move onto the next thing.

watching TV

TV is not a “prize”, it’s not a “reward”, and it’s not something she craves or desires. It’s just a way to relax for a bit in between playing outside and coloring.

And THAT’S why we let our kids watch TV.

I’d love to know your thoughts on kids and screen time (especially if you have older kids).

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54 comments

  1. Kim

    08/11/2014

    Love this post! We feel the same with our kiddos watching. We do not restrict in the sense that they are NEVER allowed. We try to encourage our 4 year old to do other things (playdoh, read books, play with toys, etc) but if he would rather watch a show (mostly educational like Curious George, Daniel Tiger, Umi Zoomi, etc.) we don’t have an issue with it because just like you, we believe in everything in moderation. He also plays on the tablet quite a bit but we monitor him enough to know what he is playing and if we feel that he is starting to get a little obsessive about it, we limit him to just an hour and then he has to do something else. He has some OCDs (just like me) so he tends to have rituals, we don’t try to discourage this behavior but when it comes to things like electronics, we try to limit it in such a way that he is experiencing other things as well (just so he isn’t on the tablet, computer or TV ALL day long).

    Again, great post and I love how open and honest you are about everything! And you are totally non-judging about others and their situations…this is what brings me back every day!!!

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  2. TeeTee

    08/11/2014

    I agree that TV in moderation is okay. We felt that way too when our boys were young. We did not police TV at all. However I almost always watched TV right along with them- at least in the same space. I might be folding clothes or doing dishes, but I was right there. Personally, I think the bigger danger is found in allowing your child to be online too much. My own son got hooked on online gaming- to the point that it has adversely effected his life :(. I so wish I had set up many more limitations about how much time he spent on the computer when he was a young teenager(we didn’t even have a computer until he was 10). I wish I had put really strong filters on our computers and I wish I had put the Nanny monitor on my computer (put out by Focus on the Family). I raised 3 sons to adulthood and 2 are just fine with the computer, but the one son is obsessed. I just think computers are much more of an addiction that people want to admit- much more than TV I just am sending out this cautionary word as a mother who wishes I had done things a little differently. I beat myself up about it often- I don’t know if more restrictions would have helped or not. Just be careful.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your comment — and please don’t beat yourself up about your son. I know for a fact that different people have different “thresholds” for electronics, alcohol, pornography, and other addictive behaviors and there is nothing you as the parent can do to completely eliminate that addiction from flaring up. The fact that your other 2 boys are completely fine just goes to show that you did it right. Your 3rd son probably has a lower threshold and is more easily addicted to that type of activity. It does not sound like you were a passive or inattentive parent in anyway. This is not your fault!

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    Janice Reply:

    “Thresholds” is such a great term to describe the levels for addictive behavior that we all have! Thanks for that idea.

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  3. Katie

    08/11/2014

    Great post!

    In our experience – we thought our 2.5 year old was doing great with a couple of 15 minute episodes of Thomas everyday, but when his behavior starting getting out of control after his sister was born, I cut it out. I didn’t make a big deal about it – but when he asked to watch I would just say “not now.” I cannot speak enough to what an improvement it made in his behavior almost immediately. A lot less tantrum throwing and a lot more time spent with toys that had sat dormant for months.

    It’s been a little over a month and it was the right choice for us at this time. We also cut out the tablet for playing games and puzzles on a regular basis – it’s something we only pull out once or twice a week now. I don’t plan on making TV a no-no forever, but it is pretty amazing how it can affect different kids (and different people in general!).

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, we have a friend with similar experience. They said their child is totally different without TV! We haven’t had issues with Nora (yet!) but I like your idea of saying “not now” instead of “no”. Also, we make a point not to use the TV as a “bribe” or no TV as a “punishment” — and I think that’s helpful too.

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  4. Stacey

    08/11/2014

    We do the same thing at our house. I had a friend growing up who was not allowed to have sweets. All she did when she wasn’t home was have sweets! I certainly don’t want my children to go down that road. We emphasize “too much of anything ( even our favorite healthy foods) is not healthy.” So we focus on learning to know when it is enough which will vary everyday. I have found that for my children (ages 7 & 5) watching a show or two has been helpful in decompressing after a busy time, especially after school. Just like most adults need time to “unwind” after work, my daughter really needs this after school. I love reading your blog – Thank You!

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  5. Heather Dilios

    08/11/2014

    My gauge for my three old daughter is always – is she willing to do something else? The moment she would rather watch tv than go outside to play or cook with mom or even clean with mom, then I will be concerned. At three years old, even if they can entertain themselves, the activity they want to engage in almost always requires some kind of supervision. My daughter is really into cutting and gluing right now. She can handle both on her own but it’s obviously an activity I want to keep an eye on even if from a distance. I agree with you – ban something and it will be the only thing they want. It’s just human nature!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh that’s good Heather. I like questioning whether they would be willing to do something else or not… I’ll remember this!

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  6. Jenny

    08/11/2014

    And this is why i love, love, love your blog. It’s the very first one i check in the moring. Not only are you honest, but a real mom who admits its okay to need a break. And kids need downtime, even if it is just relaxing and watching a few minutes of tv. You are absolutely right, everything in moderation. Love it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jenny :)

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  7. Michelle

    08/11/2014

    I agree too. My son is only 17 months but we are so lucky to have such fantastic children’s programmes, I don’t mind him watching them at all. It’s only in short bursts – sometimes in the morning before his nap and often later in the afternoon when he’s getting a bit tetchy. Sometimes it’s more if the weathers not good or he’s unwell or teething and needs distraction. Most often he watches for a bit and them starts playing, not noticing when I turn it off. His favourite thing is to get outside and he’ll choose that over anything else, so for the moment I don’t think I have anything to worry about.

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  8. Shambray

    08/11/2014

    I love everything you said. I love how real you are. I’m the same way. I try and put it into perspective. I do notice though that when my daughter watches too much TV she acts out a bit more. So I like to keep a good balance.

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  9. Amanda

    08/11/2014

    We’re with you – we don’t see TV as a reward or a babysitter, and our 2.5yr old watches a bit everyday. We tend to stick with things like Veggie Tales (DVDs or Netflix), Daniel Tiger, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, etc.

    What I’ve found, is he’s actually picked up learning concepts from these shows, and we know some words in his vocab have come from these shows, so to me they do have value. Although he’s not old enough to know yet because we’re still totally in control, there are some shows I choose not to show him. As he grows up, he will understand that there are some shows he isn’t allowed to watch. And while TV isn’t exactly a “privilege”, if you violate our trust with it, it can be taken away, because as your parents, we need to trust that you can follow our rules, even when we’re not supervising.

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  10. Verity

    08/11/2014

    I agree!

    Since scheduling a little bit of controlled TV in my children’s week, I have had some scheduled time to count on that makes the rest of our time were productive, and more focused on teaching them.

    On Mondays without fail they watch a movie. We call it ‘Monday movies.’ That let’s me be relaxed over the weekend to spend time with my husband because I know I’ll get things cleaned up.

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  11. Jennifer

    08/11/2014

    My family went through different phases with TV rules, depending on our ages and what was going on at the time. But mostly, I think my parents subscribed to the idea of imposing rules when something became a problem – but not being rigid about it before that time. It sounds like that’s what a lot of people here are doing: if TV doesn’t seem to be causing a problem, then they just use their judgment and go with their intuition. If it begins to cause a problem, then there needs to be a rule about what, when, how long, etc.

    I think that’s a really good policy in many things – not least for myself as an adult! I have some self-imposed rules about certain things, just because I’ve developed bad habits, but I impose those rules and limits for a time and insofar as they fix a problem.

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  12. Meghan

    08/11/2014

    I agree with you!! My husband was raised totally without a TV and did exactly what your friends did to you when he went over to a friends house. Worse yet, when we started dating, anytime we went to a restaurant that had a TV, he was glued. Thankfully over about ten years it has subsided. We agree with everything in moderation as well, AND I also believe it’s what you watch on the TV, not the TV itself that’s bad, against beliefs, etc. Thanks for that post!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I totally agree that WHAT you watch is more important than the TV itself.

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  13. Ashli

    08/11/2014

    I agree with you completely for when kids are small. When my kids were little and home all day they watched a reasonable amount. Now however, they are in school so we don’t allow any screen time during the week. When you factor in homework, baths, reading, and dinner, they only have a couple of hours of free time before bed each afternoon and I don’t want them wasting time watching tv or playing video games, they have too much energy and need to use it up! Weekends only when school is in session!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Ashli — I’m sure we will have rule about screen time once our kids are in school!

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  14. Janice

    08/11/2014

    Sometimes 4 of our grandkids have to stay at our house while our daughter and son-in-law have to be out of town. The kids are 13, 11, 9, and 5. We let them watch TV programs like “Little House on the Prairie,” The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Walton’s,” and others on those cable networks that show golden oldies from the past. They absolutely love them and it usually results in some conversations with them about history and family relations. Once when the 11 year old boy was acting out, I told him he was being just like Mrs. Olsen on “Little House on the Prairie.” WELL! That made such a point with him about understanding his misbehavior. It was a teachable element I was able to use because of good ole TV!

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  15. Kelly in Oregon

    08/11/2014

    I LOVE this! My mom had your same philosophy – what kids are “banned” from is often what they rebel to do once they eventually have the freedom to do so. We had basically no rules growing up… which is not to say we could do whatever we wanted, but my parents (usually my mom, since she stayed at home with us) would assess each situation and make a decision based on specific situation. She felt that arbitrary rules like “no makeup until you’re 13″ were often just silly. We watched a lot of TV growing up (my mom loves TV… she likes having background noise, so it was/is basically always on in her house), but neither of us (me and my sister) watch much TV now. I do spend a lot of time on the computer though.

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  16. Anna

    08/11/2014

    Love this! Currently my 2 kids (6 and 3) are watching a cartoon on Disney Junior. In fact they have a watched a few today. At the same time they have gone to library and each picked out 10 books, played outside, spent time with their grandparents and more. We also go with moderation. they know what they can and can not watch. When school starts next week for my daughter. There will be hardly any TV during the week. As they get older there will be more boundaries, but for right now this works for us.

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  17. Kat

    08/11/2014

    My daughter is 24, so the TV debate is long over. :) She was a difficult child. We used TV for our sanity. In fact, I recall finding a recommendation in a parenting book to use TV sparingly if it gave you some relief from an intense hard to handle child. She didn’t watch a lot, but I’m sure she watched every day. There were times when my husband and I said to each other, “We love Barney.” However, this was an activity she must have done as a very young child. When she was 5 or 6, she was at a friend’s house and was surprised to see they had more than one channel. :) We didn’t have cable at the time.

    As she grew older, she had one or two shows she liked – usually introduced by a friend. Surprisingly, there was never an issue with watching TV vs doing homework. (Though doing homework and going to school was a huge issue, TV time wasn’t a factor.) By the time she was a teenager, she never watched TV. In fact, she didn’t always understand current discussions, because she didn’t watch TV shows. I don’t know that she cared. In college, she wanted to be able to participate in discussions and started to watch some shows with us.

    I’ve been meaning to comment to you for a while now. Your Nora reminds me of my daughter. I just wanted to say those sensitive little girls grow up to be lovely independent women. Sometimes it’s hard getting them there, but you will be fiercely proud of them in the end.

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  18. Jane

    08/11/2014

    Gosh, did I watch a lot of TV growing up – way more than I let my kids watch! I don’t remember how much as a preschooler – probably a fair amount – Captain Kangaroo, Romper Room, Sesame Street, etc. There were not many choices back then. I understand the part about friends. We didn’t have a Nintendo, so when I went to my friends house, I wanted to play that! Thankfully, we spent most of our days outside, away from the hustle and bustle of our big families! My kids are older now, but I used TVs and/or videos. The only thing I would say is that I still can’t stand having a TV on 24/7. I don’t like being in households where it is on. I don’t like trying to talk over it. I don’t like when my father-in-law comes over for a family dinner and insists we turn on golf. My anecdotal observations are that if a TV is on, everyone’s eyes gravitate to it. When the tv is on 24/7, I think kids lose focus and attention. When I limited TV, and when they did get to watch something, I knew they would sit there for the entire show or movie. So I used it to my advantage! Our first trip to Disney – they watched DVDs the entire way! Seems horrible, but it was not something we did every day!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — my parents stipulation for buying a new van was that it needed a TV ad VHS player so we could watch videos whenever we drove more than 1 hour! We all turned out OK and I hardly ever watch TV now!

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  19. lydia @ five4fivemeals

    08/11/2014

    I do not know what I would have done without PBS Kids last year when I had a newborn and an 18-month-old. Now we have media free mornings and we do a screen Sabbath every now and again. But we still watch Thomas everyday and I am not ashamed of that.

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  20. Debby

    08/11/2014

    My girls are 16 and 18 very close to 17 and 19. They have watched TV all their lives. Controlled TV. Appropriate shows. Moderation is the key to everything. Both girls were very involved in sports and we were blessed to live in a neighborhood with lots of kids so they played outside all day. But after lunch they would chill out for a while or after practice. They both turned out fine. Good grades. Active young women. They laugh because when they were little they would want to watch Friends and I would tell them it wasn’t an appropriate show for them. They of course would say “But so and so is allowed to watch it.” I would say “I’m not so and so’s mom” Now that they are old enough to watch it on Nick at Nite, they always tell me you were right. We weren’t old enough. :-)

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  21. Julia K

    08/11/2014

    My three younger kids are 13,10 and 6. During the week we have a no TV in the morning rule. I generally wake them about 6.45 AM – they do their morning chores, eat breakfast, get washed and ready for school – hair done etc and we leave at 7.45 AM (in fact they have just gone as my husband is driving them this morning). Morning TV is such a distraction for them.
    I let them watch it during the afternoon – but am more casual about this. Homework and chores still have to be done. If it’s not nice outside, I don’t mind if they chill out in front of the TV. DD6 likes ABC for kids (which is a non-commercial station here in Australia). DS10 likes Mythbusters and DD13 tends to either do school work or practice her acrobatics.
    They are not allowed computer games, iPods, iPads during the week but I’m thinking of changing this as they are just glued to them on the weekends !

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  22. Erin

    08/11/2014

    Andrea, thanks for another great article! While I am not a mom (yet), I love your honest and real writing about how YOUR family is doing things! Thanks for the open blog posts – I think that’s why I love your blog so much!!!

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  23. Nena

    08/11/2014

    great! we do watch tv here and I have 5 kids ages 21, 17, 12 4 and 16 months… they learn so much AND WE PLAY to use what they learn as well. tv is not the bad guy as everyone claims

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  24. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    08/11/2014

    Very well stated. I do find it interesting how much attention screen time gets these days. I have teenagers now. When they were younger, they watched TV on a daily basis. The great majority of what they watched was educational. I didn’t see an issue with it as long as they were involved in plenty of other healthy activities like those you mentioned. We don’t let them have a TV in their room. My kids prefer computer time more than TV time (that may be because we don’t have cable). I am sometimes bothered by how much time they spend on their computers, but then I look at us. My husband and I both work on computer most of the day. My kids do play on their computers, but a lot of what they do is educational. I know that screen time can be abused, but we also need to keep in mind that we live in a digital age and I don’t think it is going away any time soon. Like you said, all things in moderation. Thank you for sharing your experiences with people who have been severely restricted or not allowed to watch TV at all. I appreciate your willingness to share honestly on what is a hot topic with many.

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  25. Marie

    08/11/2014

    This post made me chuckle a bit. When my daughter was about two years old, I would’ve LOVED for her to watch a little Sesame Street so I could shower in peace!

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  26. JoDi

    08/11/2014

    Our parents were pretty similar to yours when it came to TV, and we watched it during the day and in the evening. Honestly, I enjoy watching it, but if it were up to me, I wouldn’t even own a TV. I just don’t care about watching it that much. I rarely have it on during the day if I’m home alone. It’s usually only on when my husband is home in the evening, and I’m usually doing something else while we watch.

    When our son was growing up, he watched TV, even when he was very young. Back then it was Barney, Fraggle Rock, and Thomas the Tank Engine. He and I often watched together. I enjoyed those kid shows alomg with him and still miss having an “excuse” to go see Disney cartoon movies. ;-) He’s almost 25 now and watches very little TV. He and his roommate have a TV, but they don’t have cable, just a Netflix subscription.

    We were always more concerned about the content of what he watched than we were about the quantity. As long as schoolwork got done and he spent plenty of time doing other activities too, we never felt the need to limit how much he watched.

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  27. Nicole

    08/11/2014

    I have three kids: 8, 5 and 2 1/2 (and one more on the way!), and our screen time rules have changed significantly over the years. Screen time restrictions cannot be blanket rules for all children at all stages of life. Our children all respond to screen time differently. My oldest gets obsessed (always has!) and cannot stop watching. My middle son will watch a little, play a little, and so I don’t worry about his intake as much as I do with my first. And my third little guy, can take it or leave it, but he DOES love Curious George.

    But what is true for all of them, regardless of obsessive tendencies or ability to change activities, is that they are MUCH nicer people, more helpful, more agreeable, more creative, etc., when we take a break from ALL screen time–which we do every now and then.

    We don’t realize just how much screens DO influence our little ones’ behavior and brains until we take it away completely and see the difference.

    Even still, during the school year, we DO let our kids watch a little TV or play the iPad, but we have pretty strict rules about it, and that’s worked pretty well for us. During the summer and on school breaks when I relax the rules, things start to go downhill again.

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    Katherine Reply:

    We have seen the same thing with our kids. Sometimes they just get obsessed with watching something, and then ask for it all the time, and the best thing is just to take a break for a week or something. It feels like resetting the system. Their heads get a little clearer when they have a good screen break periodically.

    All that being said, I am always advising other moms to use the t.v. as a babysitter on occasion. Especially with a new baby coming, or when a spouse is working long hours, etc. Do it guilt-free– you can always recalibrate the amount at any given time. We have “movie day” on Fridays with my kids, because by then I have used up all of my best parenting energy and am happy to put the kids in front of a nice, long movie.

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  28. Claudia Stewart

    08/11/2014

    I am a grandma of 10…raised 4 wonderful girls (all young Mom’s now)….and I agree with you wholeheartedly!

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  29. Leanne

    08/12/2014

    BEST ARTICLE EVER!
    as a homeschool mom, I am constantly reading how TV, computers, and not reading 5 hours a day will make them illiterate scum with no faith and no morals! uggh…..
    and here is the reality…
    my kids watch TV and play games on their kindles because that’s what people in the real world do…. we TEACH them to choose wisely…. with a real focus on purity issues because..well, their BOYS!
    there have been times that they have watched for hours….and days where they haven’t watched AT ALL!
    I am so glad you wrote this…. I love my kids and I love God, but I DETEST arbitrary “rules” that are based in NOTHING…..

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Leanne — and yes, I agree with your “reality” perspective!

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  30. Gervy

    08/12/2014

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!

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  31. Rebecca

    08/12/2014

    I agree with you 100%. When my oldest daughter was a baby, I was guilted into thinking tv was bad, but after becoming a stay at home mom, there was only so much I could do to entertain her while I was trying to get other things done. Now she is 6 years old, and we also have a 5 yr old and 6 month old. They watch as much tv on Netflix and PBS as they want. They will still rather go outside and play than sit in front of the tv when given the option!

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  32. Ann

    08/13/2014

    We don’t have a tv on our main floor where my grandkids spend 99% of their days. However, watching Daniel Tiger or Barney on my computer has saved this grandma many times! Wondering if we can watch Curious George on the computer. (We don’t have cable or netflix or amazon prime or anything). Wondering if anyone knows? I only found 2 hour movies when I searched and I’d rather have a 20-30 minute episode. Also looking for other recommendations for a 2 year old as he is getting sick of Daniel Tiger.

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    Stina Reply:

    Ann,
    You can usually watch Curious George episodes on PBSKids.org. They’ll usually add and delete episodes from time to time. I just checked, and it looks like there are currently several 12 to 13 minute episodes available.

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  33. Amy

    08/13/2014

    Love this!!! I have a 1 and 2 year old. My one year old has ZERO interest in tv, but my two year old will watch it as long as I have it on! I often times feel guilty for letting her watch tv, but I really like and agree with what you said about not completely restricting things becasue they may binge later in life. I never looked at it that way. We only have netflix, so we cant leave the tv on all day, but I do let her watch a few shows in the morning because she wakes up at 6am and then a show after her nap time.

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  34. E.H.

    08/14/2014

    Loved this article. When my girls were younger they watched television (PBS or movies/Netflix, etc) quite a bit as they were home with me, along with a lot of playing pretend, coloring, crafts, reading books, games, etc. I also home schooled them for a couple of their early years and YES, we definitely used the TV for things like documentaries and educational purposes, but I would be lying if I said that was all we watched. And I don’t feel bad about that.

    As our girls have gotten older (they are almost 9 and 10.5 now) we’ve had to talk about what is appropriate to watch and what is not, and we do have to watch how much time they spend in front of a computer or tablet or TV simply because they have school, homework, chores, sports, and music that compete with the time that they have when they are home. There are days I specifically make sure they DON’T have to do a chore or sports, etc. so that they can chose to veg in front of the TV for a bit or run around outside. Depending on the day they may choose to shoot baskets in the driveway, watch Netflix, or color.

    I’m trying to do the same with food. (Although, yes, in a perfect world they would eat only the healthiest of options :) ) Over regulating their food intake to always avoid “junk” food turns into the same issue. I have taught my girls the importance of balanced meals and a good diet and staying active. But I still buy my children ice cream and pudding cups. I still let them eat boxed cereal for breakfast because they love it….and honestly, that’s what I ate when I was a kid and it’s not a big deal to me. I had the same experience as you did with the girl in college/TV with my cousin (only it was with food). Every time she came over she wanted to eat all the sugar cereal we had because it was completely forbidden in her house. Cold cereal was just not a big deal to me, but it was to her, because she couldn’t ever have it. My mom also kept a “candy drawer” and it is just what it sounds like….she kept M&Ms, Twizzlers, and other types of candy in a drawer and we were allowed to grab a handful whenever we wanted and it was just no big deal. And to be honest…I’m not even a big candy person to this day. Neither is my brother. In fact, my brother and I eat very healthfully. It wasn’t denied to us and so it is just another thing to choose. I don’t keep a candy drawer in our house, but mainly, that’s just because candy is expensive and I can’t stand spending the money on it. ;)

    All this to say….Great article.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — my parents STILL have their candy cabinet, and we have one too!

    Thanks for your comment ;)

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  35. Carrie

    08/15/2014

    Andrea, I am glad to see a post on TV watching. I read lots of mommy blogs and if TV is mentioned, it seems like the kid has to “earn” screen time or is restricted very severely. We have an 8 year old who we have always let watch TV. I still remember her dancing to the Caillou theme song over and over when she was two. She does not watch too much TV, it’s just something she does when she needs downtime or a favorite show comes on. The TV is always off in our house when it isn’t being watched, because, for her, that is a distraction. Needless to say, she plays, swims, rides bikes and uses her imagination all of the time. By not restricting TV it has become just something that can be done now and then; and I don’t feel the last bit bad about it :)

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  36. Alicia

    08/15/2014

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been feeling a lot of guilt lately about my children (6 and 2) watching TV. I will admit, they watch probably a minimum of 2 hours of TV a day right now! My oldest loves movies, and will sit and watch TV all day long if I’d let him (which I don’t), but my youngest could really take it or leave it, and I don’t feel it’s a concern for him. I try to remind myself that this is just a phase. Not only is it summer time when our schedules are completely relaxed, but I’m also 13 weeks pregnant with our 3rd baby and have absolutely ZERO energy or tolerance, to be completely honest! I know normally I do find more activities and outings for them to do to keep them occupied throughtout the day, but right now I just don’t have it in me! SO yes, I do feel guilt about this.

    I completely agree with your assessment of moderation as well! Growing up, I was not allowed to watch TV pretty much at all. And my sister and I were just like your friends you mentioned: anytime we had an opportunity to watch TV, that’s all we wanted to do! Strangely, I never put it together until reading your post, but it makes complete sense! Its a great reminder to me that no, I’m not the worlds worst mother because my children watch TV. And yes, there are other moms out there who do it, too.

    Thank you for this post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh boy Alicia, please don’t feel guilty! I remember when I was newly pregnant with Simion, a good friend said, “don’t feel bad if you just need to park Nora in front of the TV and take a nap on the couch”. I did that a couple times for sure :)

    Best of luck with baby #3!!

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  37. Bridgette

    08/16/2014

    Yes, great read! I have 5 children with ADHD. That being said, we have found under our particular circumstance that we have to have daily guidelines in place. When we did not, my children would just get sucked in and watch it all day long!! We sat down and had a long chat with our children about how we felt like it was too much since they were not doing anything else and they agreed. So even though I feel exactly the same, you should do things in moderation and I had friends whose parents did not allow them to eat sweets and they always wanted to sneak sweets, seeing the effects of that on those children, I still have a different situation that I had to modify to work for what is best for my family. I think the media makes too big of a deal out of a little TV at times because of extreme cases. I think people tend to try to look for something to blame when they see kids misbehave. I know that these companies that advertise games and television are getting more clever about getting people hooked on them. At the end of the day if your a responsible parent you can tell how much is too much for your children, if they are turning it off to do other things, thats a great indicator it is not too much! Never worry about exactly what all these people say to make you feel like you are not doing a good job monitoring this or that! Use your own judgement and learn to trust your own instinct, think it through and you will make the right choices for your own situation!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes Bridgette — I agree with everything you said :)

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  38. Jozie Mader

    08/18/2014

    Just wanted to say thank you Andrea and for your transparency on such a touchy subject for some. And I agree Bridgette. People love taking the blame and putting it on others. Like T.V. making people fat. My sister and I grew up watching T.V. all the time… at least once a week, and we were never fat children…. (Children… emphasize children haha! )

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  39. Heidi

    08/21/2014

    I stopped personally watching TV about 3 years go and in all honestly do not really miss it at all. I got fustrated with the commercials and the programming set up that is designed to suck you in to watching multiple shows back to back. So I took control over it by only watching a few select shows online. That way I control the time I watch, what I watch and am not forced to watch the commercials. So if I have 4 hours I can decide to veg out and have a mini marathon of Call The Midwife or Parenthood. Or if I just have a little time catch a quick episode of The Little Couple.

    That being said, I am not anti-TV at all in fact my kids and husband all watch TV I just choose not to participate. I mean I guess I listen to TV since it is on. I have 5 kids and each one is different in the amount of TV they want to watch. One could sit for days if allowed while another only can tolerate about 30 minutes. One is obsessed with a certain cartoon and one loves to watch The Food Network (I think he has a crush on the Pioneer Woman LOL).

    All things in moderation unless it really is harmful is my motto. And of course we monitor what they watch and if its out of hand turn it off and redirect them to other activities.

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  40. Alicia G

    08/26/2014

    We go in spurts, right now we are at a twenty minute Netflix/Amazon episode or maybe half a movie each day. Sometimes we go on a show break for a few weeks when there has been too much arguing about extra TV time or whining about when it is going to be show time.

    Something we’ve been doing more of is playing audiobooks during busy times- like when I’m in the shower or cooking or on the phone or just need to sit & read a bit. She can entertain herself but not 100% so having an audiobook helps so much. We get longer CD’s at the library or Audible, Sparkle Stories free on itunes each week (they have subscriptions too). We also got a CD player with some books with CD stories that helped a lot….although currently the CD player has somehow been stuffed full of coins. Hmm.

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